Olympians chosen by WOA to attend IOA Young Participants Session

11 | 3 | 2019

Hilal Hemed Hilal OLY (Rio 2016, Swimming, Tanzania) and Lijia Xu OLY (Beijing 2008, London 2012, Rio 2016, Sailing, China) have been announced as the two Olympians chosen by the World Olympians Association to attend this year’s International Olympic Academy’s Young Participants Session.

Hilal and Lijia will join young people from around the world at the 59th International Session in Athens, Greece to learn more about the Olympic Movement. They will then put the knowledge gained at the Session to practical use in their home countries by sharing their experiences and educating others about the Olympic ideals. 

The two-week International Session, which is taking place from 1-15 June 2019, is run by the International Olympic Academy (IOA) and is designed as an introduction to Olympism and the Olympic Movement. Hilal and Lijia’s inspiring applications were chosen from an amazing field of over 250 Olympians aged 20-35 from around the world, following a call for nominations by WOA last month.

Lijia Xu, a three-time Olympian who competed at Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016, winning gold and bronze in the laser radial class, is currently studying Sports Broadcast Journalism in the United Kingdom. She hopes to use the experience in Greece to inspire future generations.

“Sport brings out the best in humanity, encouraging us to communicate, share and inspire others through team work and solidarity. This ethos can be applied to international diplomacy, where all countries in the world should be urged to work together and help each other.

“As an Olympian, I am inspired by the Olympic spirit, and as a journalist I hope to encourage more Olympians to use their platform to influence a healthier, happier and more peaceful world by sharing their stories and experiences.”

Hilal Hemed Hilal, who competed at Rio 2016 and has aspirations for Tokyo 2020, dreams of using the knowledge he will gain in Greece – the birthplace of the Olympic Games - to give back and spread the Olympic values in his home country of Tanzania.

“Sport is part of a universal culture – it is an important instrument of social cohesion, bringing together different people. As an Olympian, I want to be a role-model and use swimming to raise awareness of peace and the unifying power of sport, while also removing obstacles to participation. I would like to thank World Olympians Association for this incredible opportunity.”

Hilal is no stranger to the Olympic spirit. As an aspiring Olympian in 2011, Hilal helped those trapped during floods in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania by swimming through flooded streets to rescue a young girl and her family who were stranded on their roof.

World Olympians Association was impressed by the quality of all the applications it received from Olympians wanting to attend the Session and would like to extend its thanks to all those who applied.